Student Life Editor
Walking down the Cater Walk in bright, red stilettos, members of the Washington College community showed their support for Alpha Chi Omega’s annual Walk-A-Mile by strutting a mile in survivors’ shoes.
The sorority’s Walk-A-Mile event came at the end of sexual assault awareness month on Saturday, April 29. 90 percent of the funds they raised supported their philanthropy, domestic violence awareness, and For All Seasons, a local non-profit Behavioral Health and Rape Crisis Center.
According to the event’s CrowdChange page, the other 10 percent went toward Alpha Chi Omega Foundation administrative service fees, which support “healthy relationship programming” on college campuses.
Various refreshments and speeches from event planners started at 11 a.m. in the John S. Toll Science Center Atrium, which was decorated in white, grey, and teal streamers and balloons. Attendees mingled at tables to prepare for the start of the walk at noon.
For All Seasons had a table set up by the windows with educational materials. Representative from the organization Kristy Mirando also gave a speech detailing the resources they provide, specifically to college students who are survivors of assault.
AXO sister sophomore Julie Cinderella said that she hopes the organization’s presence at the event will inform WC students of how accessible they are to the campus.
“[For All Seasons is] right by Domino’s,” Cinderella said. “And I think a lot of people don’t realize how close these resources are.”
A majority of the male participants wore red heels, handed out to them by sisters, as they walked a mile down Washington Avenue and the Cater Walk. Many started out a little shaky but quickly progressed to racing one another to show off their growing comfort.
In her opening speech, AXO Vice President of Philanthropy and Elm copyeditor senior Emma Russell explained what the red heels represent not only to the sorority itself, but to survivors all across the world.
“Today, the heel is still seen as a controversial symbol, speaking to sexualization and stereotypes,” Russell said. “But, it will also become a symbol of resilience and empowerment for survivors. Our Walk-A-Mile event encourages us to step into the shoes of those survivors so we can empathize with their emotions and experiences and walk in solidarity with them.”
Many feminine-presenting participants walked in their own heels to demonstrate the discomfort they face in their everyday lives. Zeta Tau Alpha sister senior Cia Tiu specifically recommended bringing a pair from home.
“I think that as a member of a sorority on-campus I just want to support [AXO],” Tiu said. “They support us and it should be reciprocated. Also, it’s a very good cause, so why not?”
Often, the men who walk in the event are fraternity brothers on-campus. Kappa Sigma member sophomore Hunter Frederick chose to participate for a similar reason to Tiu.
“I want to know what size heels I should wear for future reference,” Frederick said. “Of course supporting our Greek life is something very important to me. The cause that they’re supporting at this event [is] something I really care about.”
Other attendees like senior Adrienne Nolt expressed her excitement over the baskets that the sorority was raffling off. For $8, anyone could have access to food, drinks, and five tickets to give them a shot at winning one.
The five basket themes included dorm essentials, finals care packages, a self-care kit, tea and coffee, and a year-long subscription to Spotify.
Nolt not only put tickets in for the raffle, but she wanted to support her friends in AXO.
“They’re all very lovely people,” Nolt said. “And it’s important to support other organizations on campus that people are involved in, otherwise you can’t really expect people to show up for things that you do.”
Russell, who planned Walk-A-Mile last year, said that she could see the improvement in her organization and budgeting between each event. However, the purpose remained the same.
She hopes that members of WC left with a greater recognition of the resources available to them and their community’s willingness to promote them.
“There’s always somebody to help you and there’s always a way to help others,” Russell said. “We are a small sorority on a small campus, but we’re still doing all that we can to be in support of the people on our campus [and] the people in town…And we hope that the campus can help us in that and maybe that that philosophy can extend towards other philanthropy events happening on campus.”
The CrowdChange donation page for Walk-A-Mile will remain open until Saturday, May 6 at 9 a.m.
Photo by Heather Fabritze
Photo Caption: Event supporters mingled and danced before the walk, including a group rendition of the “Cupid Shuffle.”